Matt Friedman, Politico Pro
As environmentalists, utilities and business groups debate the future of energy production in New Jersey, a bipartisan duo of state senators wants to put a far-reaching decision directly to voters.
On Tuesday, Senate Environment and Energy Committee Chairman Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) and Sen. Kip Bateman (R-Somerset) proposed a constitutional amendment, NJ SCR179, that would ask voters whether New Jersey should ban all construction or reconstruction of fossil fuel power plants that burn coal, oil, natural gas and other petroleum products.
“The idea is that as we replace power plants in the future, we’ve got to get out of the fossil fuel business,” Smith said. “It’s got to be renewable. Solar, wind, even nuclear — as long as it doesn’t generate carbon dioxide gas.“
The proposal comes as the Board of Public Utilities holds public hearings around the state on the Murphy administration’s proposed energy master plan, the draft of which calls for a 50 percent increase in renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent reliance on “clean energy” by 2050. Environmentalists have criticized the plan for not instituting a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects.
A recent Washington Post analysis found that New Jersey — which suffered unprecedented damage during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 — was one of the fastest-warming states in the nation.